Victoria asks fossil fuel companies to pay for climate change costs

City to send an accountability letter to a group of fossil fuel companies demanding they pay the a share of the city's costs associated with climate change.

City joins two other Vancouver Island municipalities sending an accountability letter

2016 was the hottest year on record since records began in the 19th century in a trend that almost all scientists blame on greenhouse gases from burning of fossil fuels. (Reuters)

The City of Victoria is about to become the third Vancouver Island municipality to send what it calls a climate accountability letter to 20 of the world's largest fossil fuel companies.

A majority of Victoria councillors have approved sending the letter, which asks the companies, including Exxon, Chevron and Shell, to pay their share of the city's climate costs.

The motion to send the letter also includes a call for other local governments across Canada to make similar requests.

More than 55 British Columbia-based legal and environmental groups joined forces in January to urge B.C.'s local governments to send climate accountability letters to the fossil fuel industry.

Since then, the districts of Saanich and Highlands have contacted companies demanding payment for the costs of climate change.

Lawsuit against oil companies

Organizations such as West Coast Environmental Law have also asked municipalities to consider a lawsuit against oil companies for a portion of local climate costs, similar to those filed recently by California municipalities, including San Francisco and Oakland.

West Coast Environmental Law climate campaigner Anjali Appadurai says Victoria's decision to forward the letter sends a powerful legal and symbolic message to the industry.

"It sets the stage for other municipalities to take this type of action, to demand a fair share of the costs they are already incurring due to climate change," she said.